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'new Rembrandt' Unveiled in Amsterdam

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A new artwork based on 168,263 Rembrandt painting fragments.

An 18-month collaboration by data scientists, developers, engineers, and art historians has yielded a painting in the style of Rembrandt.

Credit: The Next Rembrandt

A portrait titled "the Next Rembrandt" unveiled on Tuesday is not the work of the renowned Dutch painter, but the end-product of an 18-month project that brought together data scientists, developers, engineers, and art historians.

The project team, which included researchers from Microsoft, the Delft University of Technology, the Mauritshuis in The Hague, and the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam, was tasked with creating a three-dimensional printed painting in the style of Rembrandt but generated by software.

The new painting represents a distillation of 168,263 fragments from Rembrandt paintings into more than 148 million pixels.

The development team first designed a software system capable of understanding the famed artist according to his use of geometry, composition, and painting materials. Their next step was to utilize a facial-recognition algorithm to identify and classify the most typical geometric patterns used to paint human features.

Project originator Bas Korsten emphasizes the initiative is not an attempt to create a new Rembrandt. "We are creating something new from his work," he says. "Only Rembrandt could create a Rembrandt."

Korsten hopes the project leads to a conversation about art and algorithms.

"While no one will claim that Rembrandt can be reduced to an algorithm, this technique offers an opportunity to test your own ideas about his paintings in concrete, visual form," says art historian Gary Schwartz.

From The Guardian
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